We were engaged to be married in December of 2018. We knew we wanted children and that it wouldn’t happen "naturally" on our own, so we decided to start building our family the October before we got married.
We went to a different fertility center, and we did all of the pre-screening testing that needed to happen before starting IUI treatment, and we picked a sperm donor.
Selecting sperm was a wild process, and honestly, one that both my wife and I loved because it felt like our future baby was getting closer to being a reality but also found very stressful because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to pick the "right" donor- whatever that even means!
What we wanted in a donor evolved, and we ended up with who we thought would be perfect. But, how much to buy?? If you've never bought sperm before, well, it sells like hotcakes if you choose specific donors, and we felt like we had to buy enough for all the "what ifs.” So, we purchased what we thought would certainly be enough, and we were ready to go!
Fast forward to after our wedding in December 2018 and honeymoon in February 2019; we were ready to start our first IUI in March 2019!
We were ecstatic (and also naive), thinking that we would get pregnant in the first or second round of IUI. Not the case. After two rounds with our first fertility clinic and not feeling optimistic about how the treatment plan was executed, we sought out Boston IVF.
This was the best decision we made during our fertility journey. We met with Dr. Cardone in Stoneham, and he immediately put our minds at ease. He added some medication to my cycles and some additional tracking to ensure we were catching my surge at the correct times.
His experience, expertise, and kind manner were such a welcome change from our previous doctor, and we felt like this was the place we needed to be. We completed four additional rounds of IUI with Dr. Cardone, none of which were successful.
The nurses in Waltham were extraordinary during my IUIs- so supportive, kind, and upbeat each time I went in for yet another IUI. After completing six IUIs total (and yes, paying for them all out of pocket because we hadn't yet "proved" infertility for insurance purposes), we moved on to IVF.
During our meeting with Dr. Cardone about IVF, he couldn't have been more positive. He was so sure that it would work and that nothing was telling him that we didn't have a great chance of getting pregnant. His line was something like- "you have to play the percentages."
It wasn't necessarily going to happen the first time, but over each round, the odds got better we'd have success. My first round of IVF was in October 2019. We successfully harvested five eggs, and three fertilized them. It was decided to transfer two day five embryos.
We waited (im)patiently for the two-week wait window, and then I went in for my blood test, and… nothing. Another unsuccessful round (in my mind). But, good ol’ Dr. Cardone was the voice of optimism once again. He said, “We now know that we can get your eggs to fertilize. And, we still have one that is frozen that looks ‘beautiful’”.
He suggested trying to do another fresh IVF cycle and, trusting him completely, we went for it! My second round of IVF was in December 2019. We successfully harvested four eggs and two fertilized them. So, once again, we went with transferring two days five embryos.
My transfer was on Christmas Eve. Dr. Kim Thornton was the doctor who did my transfer that day. I remember being SO grateful that Dr. Thornton and her team were working on Christmas Eve, helping us to grow our family potentially. We thanked them all profusely for being there on a day that they easily could have been with their own families. The IVF team is just so wonderful, and I was acutely reminded of this fact during this transfer.
We, once again, waited the two weeks and- AHHH!! PREGNANT! My HCG came back at 50, and I couldn’t believe it. It worked- our very own Christmas Miracle! I just thought that it would be smooth sailing from there on out. I had my positive pregnancy test. It worked! But now, as I quickly found out, we had to make sure it “stuck.”
I returned for my next blood test a few days later and found out that my HCG didn’t multiply the way that they like to see, and I had to come back in a few days for another test. Subsequent blood tests didn’t bring better news, and I was scheduled to go in for an ultrasound to see what was going on. It could have been everything from a miscarriage to an ectopic pregnancy to a very slow developer… only an ultrasound would give us more information. We were nervous and sad going into the ultrasound.
But, my favorite ultrasound tech at Dr. Cardone’s office made our ultrasound (side note- I forget her name, but she is seriously amazing, and if you need her name, I’ll call the office and find it out for you!). She told me that both embryos implanted and were in my uterus, but she couldn’t find a heartbeat in either. I was both shocked and devastated.
Of all the scenarios I had imagined, miscarrying twins was not one of them. I needed a D&C to remove the embryos and ensure that my uterus was clear to try again.
After all of this, Dr. Cardone was, once again, the picture of optimism. “Well, now we know you can get pregnant. We just need a healthy embryo to implant.” He also said that, given my profile, he expected it to take anywhere from 5-7 embryos for it to work, and we had tried 4. We had one frozen embryo left. He strongly urged us to use it for this round. During my third round of IVF, it was different. We used different medications, and it was much less invasive because we didn’t need to stimulate my follicles for an egg retrieval. No shots in the tummy or rear end. It felt like a much more relaxed cycle until...the coronavirus.
On March 13th, our workplace closed, people were being told to stay home, and the world was seemingly shutting down around us. We were worried I wasn’t going to be able to get in for my next transfer, which was due to take place any day. On March 19, 2020, I was lucky enough to get in for my third embryo transfer. We had one frozen embryo left, and it was our last chance before having to start all over again. Dr. Thornton performed this transfer as well, and I felt like it was good luck that we had her again as our doctor for this procedure.
Two weeks after my transfer, I took a blood test, and I literally couldn’t believe my ears when the nurse, Maryanne, called me and told me I was pregnant again! My HCG was much higher than the last time, and it felt like she was just as excited to tell me the news as I was to hear it. By that point, the Stoneham office was closed, and I was going to Waltham for all my follow up blood tests and my ultrasound. I’ll never forget the first time I saw my baby on the ultrasound screen. Her heart beating, her little body developing. It was a miracle. A miracle that Boston IVF helped create.
A miracle my wife and I will always be eternally grateful for.
Throughout our entire fertility journey, we were never a novelty being the same sex couple. Everyone from the phlebotomist Claudine to Colleen in accounting, Dr. Cardone, Dr. Thornton, and all the nurses we met with always treated us with respect. We felt like our fertility struggle was just as valid as anyone else’s, regardless of why we needed reproductive medicine. We would recommend Boston IVF wholeheartedly to anyone looking to grow their family and needing medical intervention, especially those in same-sex couples. It was a safe and supportive experience from start to finish.
How did your boston ivf physician and nursing team help to make your journey a success?
Dr. Cardone was terrific (I know he is retired now, but we'll always be grateful for him). I will also always be thankful for Dr. Thornton; even though she probably doesn't remember us, we will never forget her. I loved Claudine, the phlebotomist in Stoneham, and Colleen, the accounting person in Stoneham, who was SUPER helpful and always so kind. I also really liked one of the people who did my ultrasounds in Stoneham, but I can't for the life of me now remember her name.
What were some highs or lows of your treatment(s)? What is unique/different about your story?
The highest high was the day we found out we were pregnant after our third round of IVF. It truly felt like a miracle that I was pregnant again after a miscarriage and D&C. My wife, Cait, says one of the hardest things was helping with the hormone shots. Some hurt for whatever reason, and I would cry, and it broke her heart. We knew (hoped!) it was all going to be worth it, but there were hard nights.
What is unique about our story, I guess, is that we're a same-sex couple so it's not like we had tried to have a baby in the privacy of our own home for a year or two before going to Boston IVF for treatment. It's an odd feeling not knowing if you have a fertility problem or not but being treated like you do...if that makes sense.
What advice do you have for other struggling with infertility?
Find the doctor who is right for you. This is such a personal experience, and you need to work with someone on the same page and is a good fit for you. Also, get comfortable with your boundaries of how long and how much you're willing to do to grow your family. And, any edge is okay. It's YOUR journey, and you get to decide when it's over for better or worse.